When was the last time your conversations felt like camping under the stars with friends, sharing stories around a beach bonfire, or catching up past closing time at some regrettable fast-food chain?
Many of us miss and want more of this quality of connection with the people in our lives, but aren't able to create it because we have a limited way of seeing how connection happens.
We mistakenly see connection as black or white: we are either engaging in small talk or we're swimming in the deep end.
But by seeing connections this way, you can prematurely kill a conversation because you think it has no chance of going deeper, or you dive deep too quickly and overwhelm others.
The 5 Levels of Communication
According to Richard Francisco, Lecturer at Stanford GSB and psychologist at San Jose Sate University, there are 5 Levels of Communication.
Levels 1 to 3 are where most small talk and casual conversation happen.
We often stay here because it feels familiar and safe. It's easy to navigate, but doesn't fulfill our need for more.
SOURCE: Richard Francisco, Lecturer at Stanford GSB, Psychologist at San Jose State University
But Levels 4 and 5 are where we experience the kind of depth that we often reminisce about.
This feels more scary and vulnerable because each person takes a risk to experience these conversations.
SOURCE: Richard Francisco, Lecturer at Stanford GSB, Psychologist at San Jose State University
Sabotaging our attempts to connect
Successfully navigating the 5 Levels is the key to having conversations that feel both deep and fun. But there are two ways we sabotage our attempts to get to Levels 4 and 5.
🥺 Passive Sabotage
You want to go deeper, but you're unsure how and end up coming off as awkward or aloof.
😤 Aggressive Sabotage
You want to go deeper, but you jump into the deep end too quickly and end up coming off as intense or impatient.
Let’s look at four different examples of (unintentional) conversational sabotage.
🥺 PASSIVE SABOTAGE
CONVERSATIONAL SABOTAGE EXAMPLE #1
CONVERSATIONAL SABOTAGE EXAMPLE #2
😤 AGGRESSIVE SABOTAGE
CONVERSATIONAL SABOTAGE EXAMPLE #3
CONVERSATIONAL SABOTAGE EXAMPLE #4
"In connection, you can have good intentions and still have a negative impact."
Often, our conversational sabotage is unintentional: we don’t mean harm, yet our unawareness can create disconnects. If we choose to learn how to skillfully move between the Levels of Communication, our conversations begin to flow - there’s no pressure, awkwardness, or sudden jumps between the levels that leave both of you feeling disoriented.
This is the art of creating Campfire Conversations - depth and play at your fingertips.
😊 campfire conversations
campfire conversation EXAMPLE #1
campfire conversation EXAMPLE #2
campfire conversation EXAMPLE #3
campfire conversation EXAMPLE #4
"Our relationships succeed or fail, gradually then suddenly, one conversation at a time."
relating between the lines
Relating Between the Lines is an 8 week program where we will teach you a step-by-step system for listening skillfully and confidently expressing yourself, hold you accountable for practicing these skills with a community of relationship-driven peers, and provide you real-time feedback on your communication, so you discover new ways of connecting with people you love.
To take Relating Between the Lines is to be invited to lead more present, compassionate, and authentic lives. This is a program to help us make the most of our relationships for the rest of our lives.
Become more intentional in your conversations instead of running on autopilot.
Enter conversations without the fear of saying the wrong thing, in the wrong way.
Connect with a wider range of people by expanding your toolbox for communicating.
and grounded in the conversations you used to feel awkward in.
LIFE BEFORE AND AFTER
RELATING BETWEEN THE LINES
⚠️ Fear of not knowing what to say
⚠️ Pressure to prove your usefulness through fixing people’s problems
⚠️ Tolerating people who drain you or are outright unsupportive
⚠️ Leaving conversations with the nagging feeling that you could have said things differently or better
⚠️ Anxiety that one mistake will ruin your relationships
⚠️ Tiptoeing on eggshells around difficult conversations
⚠️ Treating emotions as a nuisance meant to be hidden
✔️️ Confidence in communicating exactly what you mean
✔️ Spaciousness that comes from recognizing the inherent power in listening
✔️ Clear boundaries that allow you tO nurture the relationships that fuel you
✔️ Peace of mind knowing you leave every conversation with no stone unturned
✔️ Courage to revisit conversations to unpack intent and impact
✔️ Assertiveness knowing how to have hard conversations with directness and humanity
✔️ Freedom to authentically express yourself, knowing the intelligence of emotions
a new way of connection
WHAT WILL YOU LEARN
orientation: connecting fast and slow
We'll start the program by equipping you with a clear understanding of what your conversational hangups look like through the 5 Levels of Communication, and you will pick a few individuals to prioritize your efforts across the program using the Relational Portfolio.
👥 INTER-personal Learning
Approach your development of relational intelligence with a bias towards action, rather than theoretical understanding.
📶 5 Levels of Communication
Understand where you get stuck in your conversations.
📊 Relational Portfolio
Prioritize your relationships by “Return on Relationship”
LISTENING: supporting over solving
Module 1: The problem- solving Pandemic
At work, our value and status is defined by our ability to solve problems. You will learn how to be emotionally supportive without trying to provide solutions to others.
Stay present in conversations without the pressure of figuring out what to say next.
Respond empathetically in conversations without fear of losing important details that were shared.
🔍 Gentle Inquiry
Ask unique questions that inspire people to share more interesting parts of themselves.
LISTENING: Pleasure over Proving
Module 2: The dark matter of relationships
Between each person you interact with, a thread is formed. How it strengthens and weakens over time often feels like something that happens to us, not something within our control. We’ll learn how to proactively communicate to strengthen our ties with those that matter.
Feel more energized in your conversations by replacing societal "should's" with inner "want's."
Point out positive qualities in other people without it coming off as flattery.
Spend less time trying to guess if your words and behaviors negatively impact others, and more time being present with others.
expressing: Congruent over Composure
Module 3: The intelligence of emotions
Imagine driving a car without knowing the speed and how much gas is left. That’s what communication without awareness of your emotions is like: driving blind. You will learn how to read your “inner dashboard” called emotions to better inform how you engage with others.
Congruence over Composure
Remove the pressure to always appear calm by understanding the right contexts for sharing your inner feelings.
Help people get to know you beyond your job title in an authentic way.
🌡 Temperature Check
Take a conversation from surface-level to deep comfortably without oversharing or undersharing.
Expressing: heartbreak over harmony
Module 4: the declaration of interdependence
One of the greatest challenges of relationships is being with others without losing ourselves - to share what we really need and resist bending over backwards to get those needs met. You will learn how to advocate for yourself through the art of asking and saying no.
❤️🩹 Heartbreak over Harmony
Experience more freedom by leaning into difficult conversations and shifting away from avoidance.
Feel less regret and resentment towards others by asking for what you need in the moment.
Say "no" in a way where others leave having more respect & understanding towards you.
come for skills but stay for the people
Most people think they can learn to be better communicators by reading more books.
But it is only through experience in a community where you can practice, receive rare interpersonal feedback, and improve your skills.
This is not just another series of bonedry Zoom calls. It is a Michelin-star experience where you’ll be inspired by your peers to take on the subtler skills in presence, listening, and tapping into the intelligence of emotion.
You’ll be part of a global community of generous, intentional, compassionate, and emotionally intelligent humans.
Imagine 6 weeks with a group of people who:
Our students are from all walks of life and are (secretly) some of the most interesting people:
Our Relating Between the Lines alumni community can be found bringing more play, skill, and heart to organizations like:
getting lost in all the advicE
➡️ Reading books like "How to Win Friends and Influence People", "Daring Greatly", and "Crucial Conversations" and wondering how to apply all the competing advice?
➡️ Consuming content that is theoretical and abstract but not applicable by Monday?
➡️ Getting endless advice to focus on what you should do, but not how to do it?
Struggling to Listen
➡️ Struggling to stay present in conversations because you're preoccupied with trying to add value?
➡️ Embarrassing yourself by incorrectly jumping to conclusions?
➡️ Not knowing what questions to ask to keep a conversation going?
➡️ Walking on eggshells, wondering if you are showing too much or too little emotions?
➡️ Feeling misunderstood, but not knowing how to share more about who you are beyond your job title?
➡️ Feeling paralyzed by the fear of hurting someone if you were to say "no" more often?
YOU'RE IN GOOD HANDS
this program is for you if...
✅ You're open to admitting that the way you've related with others in the past may need to change if you want to achieve deeper and more meaningful connections.
✅ You’ve tried the “conventional advice” about reading Brene Brown, listening to Esther Perel's podcasts, and understanding your MBTI, but you’re still not sure why your relationships aren't as satisfying as they could be.
✅ You believe that just like going to the gym, connecting well is a muscle you have to exercise.
✅ You realize that there are so few opportunities to practice soft skills without being judged.
✅ You've gotten as far as you can on your own, but you know "what got you here won't get you there" — and you're open to learning new tools that will improve your communication.
TOOLS + GUIDANCE + COMMUNITY
what is included
🖍 LITE experience
Best for busy, independent individuals who want to build a strong foundation while dipping their toes into the community
5 Video Learning Modules
Learn the 4 principles, 8 Listening and Expressing practices, and 16 malpractices from Norman, with in-depth discussions and examples from the senior facilitation team.
Four 2-hour Live Module Experiences
Put what you learn into practice and connect with your peers through a range of deep and light-hearted activities.
Decades of best practices, boiled down into this handy toolkit, available only to RBTL participants.
Accountability by Design
Weekly peer check-ins and video-guided reflections ensure you get the most out of the program.
Private online community to support your learning
Learn from your peers and get feedback on challenges you take on from week to week.
Invitation to The Space Between Fellowship
Our most powerful hands-on learning experience for those who want to develop mastery of the skills.
🎒 SIGNATURE experience
Best for community-driven folks who thrive in a hands-on environment and seek a transformative experience
Everything in the
Get the foundations you need to have Campfire Conversations.
Four 2-hour Immersion Sessions
Guided sessions where our facilitators coach you and give you real-time feedback on the practices.
Weekly 60 minute
Q&A with Norman
Get your questions answered and learn additional tips and tricks beyond the class material.
Free re-enrollment into future live Module Experiences for 12 months
Benefit from future program updates and get a refresher for up to another year.
the journey begins with a single step
1. 🛣 Choose your journey
Review and decide whether the Lite or Signature Experience is best fit for how you learn best and your intention for the program.
2. ✍🏼 Complete an online application (~15 min)
You will schedule a time for an interview and answer questions about your challenges and motivations for the program. The RBTL team will review your application to determine program fit based on learning needs and values alignment.
Below you can see the values we look for in RBTL participants:
3. 📞 Interview with the RBTL Team
During the interview, we'll review your application, discuss your goals, and answer questions you have. If you are a fit for the program, the team will let you know on the call, and you'll accept your invitation into the program by sending in your payment at the end of the call.
make every conversation count
Stop overthinking. Start connecting.
A Generous Guarantee
Try Relating Between the Lines for 30 Days, 100% Risk-Free
We want this investment to be 100% risk-free. If you attend all the Lives and Campfire Hours, complete the Weekly Challenges, and submit your Intermission weekly check-in's, and still don't find the course valuable, we’ll happily refund your full payment within 30 days of the start of the program.
Before we built Relating Between the Lines, we spent a combined 11 years and $100,000 in courses, coaching and programs to understand the best way to teach relational intelligence, only to find out these two things:
However, none of the experiences were successful in both giving us concrete, repeatable, proven techniques AND shifting long-term habits in the way we communicate and connect.
That's why we spent the last year committed to building a comprehensive program—we want to bridge academic theory AND practical application. We sat down and thought hard about what we couldn't get from those programs we experienced, and we committed to answering the hard questions:
Relating Between the Lines is not like any other program: it is a comprehensive curriculum, practical training, AND an emotionally intelligent community to grow with. Each part is meticulously designed - a learning ecosystem that transforms you. It is our magnum opus that we proudly welcome you to experience.
We prioritize a pedagogical approach that engages equally your mind and heart. We designed learning tools to ensure you walk away with practical ready-to-use-by-Monday skills. On a human level, we don't let our students slip through the cracks. We think every person deserves to experience the greatest quality of connection possible within their relationships so we devote ourselves tirelessly to ensure you leave the program a different person - as your best self.
So we invite you to try Relating Between the Lines for 30 days, and if you don't love it, just email us at ANY TIME during the first 30 days and we will refund 100% of your price. You can even keep the toolkit.
R. Buckminster Fuller once said "When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." We want you to have a beautiful learning experience. If we are unable to deliver that to you, we will refund you in full during the first 30 days of the course. But if you are ready to get started on this journey, we are ready to meet you. See you in class!
- Norman and Stephanie
MAKING LEARNING BEAUTIFUL
Norman is known for being one of the youngest facilitators of Stanford's famous Touchy Feely class, and is currently helping the professor who trained him to co-design a version of the class that will equip a whole new generation of leaders who can connect skillfully online.
But it wasn't always this way. Norman is familiar with the pain of being alone, feeling misunderstood, and not knowing the right words to say. As an artistic gay Asian child who had a wild imagination, he struggled to connect with others. He felt too awkward to ask other kids to be his friend, and later became too aggressive in trying to extract more depth from conversations.
In 2014, he was really lucky to take an abridged version of Stanford's "Touchy Feely" class, where he discovered emotional intelligence is learnable. Those two weeks changed his life and he soon concluded that he wanted to create a career intersecting facilitation, his lifelong love of aesthetics, and playful improv.
After designing learning experiences for companies like Facebook, IDEO, Stanford d.school, Norman created Relating Between the Lines to gift to you what he did not have growing up. His greatest wish is to help people rediscover the joy of coloring outside the lines - not with crayons, but with their being.
He's designed programs for a few companies you might know.
A WHOLE LOT OF HEART AND BRAINS
Meet the team
Community & Ops, Co-Founder
From origami, to poetry, to putting Hallmark to shame with her handmade giftcards, Stephanie has always loved making things as a child. But Stephanie grew up in a household and environment that valued professional success over creative expression. She has since been on a lifelong search for worthiness, not from an external source like a job, but from an internal one that recognizes her own creative spirit and inherent value. This led her to create a wellness company that taught people how to design healthier lifestyles by talking through shame, not running away from it.
As a mentor to many, she deeply cares for people living fulfilled lives, and has helped hundreds of people seek what they really want within themselves, their careers, and their relationships. And that is the gift she brings to the Relating Between the Lines Community: to live more fulfilling lives by getting clarity on what we need, and how to communicate it.
“Don’t be a pussy.” Like many men, Kevin’s environment conditioned him to be tough and to suppress feelings. Because he didn’t have a space that encouraged exploring feelings of shame, helplessness, and sadness - he often felt alone and suffered in silence. Upon realizing that the root cause of his inability to express was tied to his family’s dismissal of feelings, Kevin set out to learn how to reconnect with his own so that he wouldn’t continue the intergenerational cycle. He later realized “Men shouldn’t have to suppress their feelings - it's what it makes them human."
As a manager at Greenhouse, Kevin challenges Silicon Valley’s cultural norms by prioritizing the human first in order to get stuff done. He has created programs for self-care, and self-advocacy through nonviolent communication. He brings to Relating Between the Lines his superpower of helping people feel permission to embrace the highs and lows of life.
Growing up, Jiggy's mom seared into her consciousness the idea that "high performance" was the be-all-end-all of goals. But when her mother lost her battle to cancer, Jiggy questioned the gospel of pursuing excellence for excellence's sake. In her search, she took a course by Dr. Christopher Uhl, which introduced to her the idea that what we need more in life is not excellence, but self-compassion. She quickly rose from student to assistant lecturer because of how much the message resonated with her, and she now actively teaches this to competitive athletes, entrepreneurs, and young adults.
In Relating Between the Lines, Jiggy is helping people see that the greatest act of self-love is to be fully who we are. For her, it's that it's possible to have a chronic illness and be an athlete, to be well-mannered and tatted, to be reflective and outspoken, to be queer and Christian, for we are the space between our labels.
David is a curious and loving human being. But sometimes, he pretends he isn’t. David is loved and respected by his friends. But sometimes, he pretends they hate him. Why does he do that? It’s complicated, but probably has something to do with how he was raised — taught to achieve, told to always be better, in a household where the only thing that mattered was material abundance — David forgot that he had emotions, forgot how to feel and connect, forgot that he mattered as a human being, beyond what he produces or achieves.
It’s been a journey for David to remember, to re-learn how to be human again. And it’s been the most arduous, frustrating, painful, yet rewarding journey of his life. David is shaped by his experiences breaking out of his singular identity as a Silicon Valley engineer — valued solely on the code he writes — to traveling the world teaching empathy, living in meditation centers and conscious communities, and connecting with people wherever he goes. David is delighted — no, bursting with joy and anticipation — to share his accumulated learnings with the students of Relating Between the Lines, and to help every human remember the beauty, joy, innocence, and wonder of being alive.
As a child, Skylar was in every activity under the sun. She was driven by the feeling of belonging in different communities and loved creating experiences to bridge them. She grew to see her value as a peacekeeper, anticipating needs and care-taking others, while at times not being in touch with herself and suppressed needs. It led her to pursue success as it was defined in these various communities, vs learning to discern what her definition of it was. It even drove her to take responsibility for others’ experiences, while not learning to make space for her own, sometimes unintentionally hurting those involved. Skylar learned that while keeping (the illusion of) peace may be fulfilling, she would never feel fully connected to others until she learned how to bring awareness and express her own experience, and through that define for herself what a fulfilling life was.
This directed Skylar’s career path, where she has worked with 5+ innovative education organizations to create what she thought was missing from her upbringing and education: the space, relationships, and tools necessary for embodied relating and critical thinking. In Relating Between the Lines, Skylar helps people meet each moment, themselves, and each other with acceptance to support the experimentation necessary to illuminate patterns and consciously choose the dynamic roles they want to play in relationships; where there’s space to both express and listen, and where the joy of connecting is at the core vs. proving one’s worth.
What participants feel after
Relating Between the Lines sessions
Note: Due to popular demand, we are super excited to now offer RBTL in an EU-time zone.
For those of you who are applying from the UK, we currently offer the Lite Experience with all sessions hosted from 11:00AM-1:00PM PST (7PM WET, 8PM CET, 9PM EET). Please indicate this in your application.
YOU'VE GOT QUESTIONS, WE'VE GOT ANSWERS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Our work draws from the expertise that spans many fields, and below are some of them to help you get a window into our tapestry of inspirations.
If you're curious, you can find a list here of (mostly) public resources that our work draws from in greater detail.
We are thrilled you are interested in joining the Relating Between the Lines program!
In Relating Between the Lines, your psychological safety is our #1 priority. We understand that learning to communicate and improve your relationships can feel intimidating or nerve-wracking (we've been there too!).
To ensure the best learning experience possible for every participant, we ask a series of questions in our onboarding survey to help us understand how we can best support you, and we keep your answers in mind when we pair you with your accountability partner(s) and with your facilitators for the Immersion Sessions. In the past, students who have identified as shy or introverted have found just as much fulfillment in the experience as those who identify as outspoken or extroverted.
At minimum, we ask that you are comfortable with sharing in a small group of up to 3 people. As you work on our communication skills, sharing in groups (1:1, small groups, and with the entire cohort) is a part of the experience. We will challenge you to be in the "stretch" zone (that's where growth happens, after all!), but we make sure never to cross over to the "panic" zone. Our facilitators are specifically trained to meet you where you are in your growth journey.
If you decide you would benefit from further practice and engagement with the facilitation team, you will have an opportunity to decide after completing the program.
No prior knowledge or prerequisites are required to take this program, but you will get the most out of this experience if you are committed to doing the work, being open-minded to being challenged, and be willing to be vulnerable and take risks in the sessions.
The 🖍 Lite Experience is limited to 22 participants, the 🎒 Signature Experience is limited to 18 participants, and the ✈️ Executive Experience to 6 participants. While there is no way to guarantee a spot in the program, you can increase the likelihood of ensuring a seat in the program by applying as soon as possible. If spots are filled by the time you apply, you will be waitlisted for the next cohort.
You'll have the opportunity to join the module experiences as an alumni, where you can practice the skills again, get guidance from Norman and Stephanie, and experience Choose Your Own Adventure with the new cohorts.
We want you to have the best experience possible, so if you know you’ll miss more than 2 of the Monday or Wednesday sessions, we recommend you to only purchase the Self-Guided course and apply for the next cohort. The tuition you paid for the Self-Guided course will always be credited towards the Lite or Signature Experience, and there’s no expiration date on that!
If you pay for the Self-Guided course and wish to join the 🖍 Lite or 🎒 Signature Experience in the future, the payment you made towards the Self-Guided will be credited towards your tuition, and you’ll only need to pay the difference!
You’ll have access to the Self-Guided course material for 1 year from when you purchase the offering. If you are enrolled in the 🖍 Lite or 🎒 Signature Experience, you’ll also access to the additional recordings of the Module Experiences for 90 days from when they are posted during the program.
The experience and content in Relating Between the Lines is not therapy and is not a replacement for therapy. The focus of Relating Between the Lines is on interpersonal effectiveness (relationship-oriented), rather than intrapersonal ones (self-oriented). We do not offer the appropriate support for highly traumatic personal issues, which would be better supported with a licensed therapist.
Copyright © 2023 The Space Between LLC